We have already seen it. Jaden Ivey returning the ball. Jaden Ivey screaming on the ground, fueled by frustration and the most spectacular set of rocket boosters this side of NASA, and he’s rising now, to the edge where he waits for Andrew Jones to try what he will try – that is, put him down, but before he can even leave his fingers, Ivey smacks him hard on the panel.
But you’ve heard it before, the future NBA star does this stuff all the time.
Have you heard of this? The Purdue Boilermakers face a team of Coach Chris Beard in March. A Purdue team leading a Coach Beard team, this time Texas’ sixth seed in Milwaukee, and like I said, Purdue runs their team late and Texas is hitting all three to go up a comeback, including a 4-point foul play that reduced a ten-point lead to 6.
Texas presses and keeps coming and they pulled it within 3 points. The ball bounces everywhere, they examine it and the ball is still Purdue’s. Crisis averted, for now, but there are fifteen seconds left on the clock and Jaden Ivey, this Jaden Ivey, has the ball and is dribbling it high off the ground. He will drive. He’s already thrown a monster dunk this game, but Texas fears another.
The defender steps back, loses his balance because he expects the blur, but Ivey stops, just a second, a tenth of a second, maybe it wasn’t the time at all, but for the Purdue fans, this will last forever, or at least until Philadelphia – and maybe beyond.
He pauses and there’s space and he gets up and he does something he did against Ohio State and Wisconsin, but never here, not like this.
He buries her. Three points. It’s the ball game. He knows it.
Purdue takes the 81-71 victory over Texas, before defeating Coach Beard and his talented Longhorns.
Trevion Williams has been here a long time, he was there in Louisville.
He’s here now, in Milwaukee and this game was all about Williams until it was Ivey. Williams had 22 points, leading the team, and starting what was a furious comeback start for a Purdue team that looked a bit off the mark at the time to start.
Texas knew it would struggle with the size of Purdue, but it didn’t just struggle, it was sunk. .
Purdue goes to Sweet Sixteen. They will play Cinderella #15 St. Peters. They will be the big favourites.
That’s the most minutes Ethan Morton has played in a game since…his freshman year perhaps? When he was replacing injured Jaden Ivey, long before Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year was ready for college basketball. He is ready now.
He was perhaps Coach Painter’s best defender, and he acted like one, closing the opposition point guard for the second game in a row. If Carr was somewhere, he was there too, all over him. He had two huge blocks, but even more, two huge three-pointers, Ivey’s two assists found him twice in the corner on a night Purdue was hitting nothing, 6 of 17 of three, until they are.
When they really need it.
Maybe it’s Ivey, maybe it’s Tre, maybe it’s this team.
But right now Purdue seems to be doing exactly what they need to win.
Two victories less, four remain.
The Boilermakers go to the Sweet Sixteen.